15 October 2018

Six Speciality Coffee Spots To Visit in Lima, Peru

When I started planning my two-week Peru trip earlier this year, I soon realised that it was unlikely I would manage to squeeze a visit to a coffee farm into my packed itinerary, as I did in Costa Rica. But I did my best to visit as many coffee shops as I could, including in Cusco, Arequipa and especially Lima. I spent two full days at the start of my trip and an afternoon at the end in Lima; I could have cut a day and reallocated it to another city but I wanted to have time to visit a few of the coffee shops I'd researched.

As I've mentioned before, Lima isn't the easiest city for a pedestrian to explore, and all of the places I visited are in the Miraflores or Barranco neighbourhoods. Most places served exclusively Peruvian coffee, which meant I got to try a lot of different varieties, with coffees from Cajamarca in the northern highlands and from the Selva Central featured most often. I was also pleased by the diversity of filter coffee brew methods on offer at the cafes to which I went. Never a fan of milk in my coffee at best of times, I found that the milk was often UHT, and cortados rather milkier than I was accustomed to. I had some very good filter coffees during my time in Lima, though, and met some lovely, passionate baristas, so if you're a coffee lover, don't cull too many Lima days from your schedule!


Arabica Espresso & Slow Bar
Arabica was the closest coffee shop to my Lima hotel but because I was there at the weekend, where it opens late (10 am on Saturdays and 2 pm on Sundays), I only managed to visit right at the end of my trip. Walking past, you might mistake it for a miniature fire station, but instead it's a cosy coffee shop serving Tostaduría Bisetti coffee.

They have pourovers on the menu but I was pushed for time so I ordered a double-shot cortado from the counter, where a particularly jazzy La Marzocco sits proudly. I went through to the back, where there's a small courtyard garden with an unexpectedly grand marble table. There's another indoor space with more seating. My coffee was very well brewed (the double-shot order was something I wish I'd mastered earlier in the trip) and it was a great way to round off my time in Lima — and to prepare for a 12.5-hour flight back to London.

Arabica is located at Calle Gral Recavarren 269, Miraflores. FacebookInstagram.

Cate Tasting Room
Cate Tasting Room was also a short walk from my hotel and I headed straight there after breakfast on my first morning in Lima. Other than the 'living wall', the cafe didn't look like much from the outside, but inside, I found a welcoming coffee shop with plenty of seating and so many brew methods even I hadn't heard of all of them.

I took a seat at the coffee bar and ordered a Rayos del Sol washed coffee from the Cajamarca region, roasted in-house under the Coffee Hunters Peru label. Brewed through the V60, it had subtle floral notes and was very drinkable. I liked it so much, I bought a bag of the beans, which I ground and brewed for the rest of my trip. I also got talking to the friendly baristas, who were brewing using a beautiful ceramic pourover device called the vandola, which comes from Costa Rica. I hadn't seen one before or even heard of it, but the baristas were kind enough to give me a small sample. The coffee was sweeter than its V60-brewed equivalent but in a good way.

Cate Tasting Room is located at Calle Independencia 269, Miraflores. Website. Instagram.

Neira Café Lab
A few blocks west of Cate Tasting Room, Neira Café Lab was my next stop on that first Saturday morning. On a lazy weekend morning, there was a relaxed ambience in the small coffee shop, which manages to pack a roaster in the back. Families, travellers and others were among the customers who had come in search of excellent coffee.

They had two single-origin coffees available as a V60 pourover. After smelling the beans of both, I opted for the washed Villarica coffee from the Selva Central. I also ordered a rich, sweet canela cake to eat while I waited. Design is clearly as important as the coffee quality at Neira and I loved both the colourful ceramics and the cute, fun coasters on the tables. The coffee was very well brewed — one of the nicest I had all trip — and the staff were just as nice and welcoming.

Neira Café Lab is located at Calle Enrique Palacios 1074, Miraflores. Facebook. Instagram.

Puku Puku

A slim coffee bar not far from the Larcomar outdoor shopping mall on the Malecón cliffs, Puku Puku is a great spot for an espresso-based coffee. There are only a few seats at the counter and a little more perching room, but Puku Puku, which means 'bird' in Quechua, is a worthy addition to any Miraflores coffee shop list.

They roast and serve their own coffee and the profile of the current batch is detailed on the subway-tiled back wall. I ordered a cortado made with an espresso from the Puno region of Peru, which was smooth and well-balanced. On a drizzly Sunday morning, the small shop had a constant stream of customers, including joggers and cyclists seeking caffeination after a workout along the Malecón.

Puku Puku is located at Narciso de la Colina 297, Miraflores. WebsiteInstagram.


Colonia & Co
In the heart of the Barranco district, Colonia & Co — whose name is echoed in its bee-themed branding — is a spacious and attractively decorated coffee shop and all-day eatery. Set across several separate rooms, with a variety of seating options, it even has its own ice cream shop at the entrance. I took a seat at the counter so that I could admire the pretty ceramic cups and the prettier still, pastel-hued décor.

The Aussie-influenced brunch menu looked great but I'd already eaten, so I decided to try two separate coffees from the extensive and creative coffee menu. I loved the house-roasted coffee from northern Peru,which was brewed through the Kalita Wave and had distinctive fruity notes. And yes, of course I got the usual case of cup envy. Out of curiosity more than anything else, I also tried an orange tonic: an espresso tonic with orange. The flavours worked well together, sweet combining with sharp and bitter, and it made for a refreshing drink.

Colonia & Co is located at Avenida San Martin 131, Barranco. WebsiteInstagram.

Tostaduría Bisetti
Originally established 60 years ago, Tostaduría Bisetti is a real Lima coffee institution. Now located in the bustling Barranco district, their spacious flagship cafe is close to the Puente de los Suspiros (Bridge of Sighs). I visited on the way to dinner at Central, just down the road, on a Saturday evening. It was busy inside, but with several separate sitting areas with a variety of shabby chic chairs, sofas and other seating options. At first, I sat at the table with a vintage espresso machine on it before moving to a more traditional table.

I ordered a cortado, which was a little milky but otherwise very nicely made. Had I had more time I would have liked to try one of the filter coffees. I was at least able to buy some coffee beans — a limited edition bag of Alturas de Mazamari gesha from the Satipo region of Peru. I didn't trust these beans to my in-transit brewing techniques, but back in Blighty, the coffee tasted great brewed through the Kalita Wave, with delightful lemon verbena and sweet lime notes.

Tostaduria Bisetti is located at Pedro de Osma 116, Barranco. Website. Twitter. Instagram.

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